How to make your website your best employee.

Imagine you’re a manager. You’ve got two employees, both exceed the qualifications for the job. On paper, they’re both good eggs.

But, in practice, one consistently wows you with her performance. The other… well, she’s just punching the clock.

The Star Employee represents the business well, answering the phone pleasantly & professionally, creating systems for herself & others, improving quality standards, and selling more than you imagined possible. The Clock Puncher ignores company standards, creates more work for you & the rest of the staff, annoys customers, and takes no ownership over the job.

What would you do?

Inane HR policies notwithstanding, you’d fire the Clock Puncher!

She’s damaging relationships, misrepresenting your vision, and costing you money.

So why do you let your website punch the clock?

Sadly, most business websites are just punching the clock. They misrepresent the vision of the business, damage relationships with potential & existing customers, and cost you money.

Just like there’s no perfect employee, no website is perfect – certainly not this one. But there are ways to make sure your website is the employee you dream about, not the one of nightmares.

Bottom line, your website needs to work when you’re not working. Click to tweet!

What good is it to have an employee that only works when you do? Spacing out “coverage” during all the hours you’re open for business is important. Of course, your business is open 24 hours a day if you’re online. So your website needs to be working for you while you’re eating lunch, playing with your kids, and sleeping.

If you’re not posting a new article, does your website still get traffic? If you’re not launching a new product, does your website still close sales? If you’re not answering your email, does your website still provide the answers?

Here are my expectations for “website employee of the month:”

  • Answers questions. It’s not enough to have a “contact” page – you’ve still got to do the work! You need to make sure your website is anticipating your customers’ questions so they don’t need to contact you before you make the sale.
  • Directs customers to where they want to go. “What can I help you find today?” It’s the first thing you hear when you walk into a store and your website should be no different. Again, you need to anticipate what your visitors are looking for and place that front & center. You can also create paths through your site that invite people to go further & further into your world.
  • Makes appropriate suggestions. I love when a waiter suggests something he loves off the menu. Or when I’m in the dressing room and an attentive employee brings me something that would look great on me. Your website needs to do that too. Think, “If you like this, then you’ll love that!.
  • Follows the dress code. Polos & aprons at Starbucks, white shirts & black ties at your favorite Italian restaurant, fashion-forward & quirky accessories at the hip design firm down the street. What you wear says a lot about you as an employee – and consequentially the business you work for. What’s your website wearing nowadays? If it’s outdated, cheap, or it’s shirt isn’t tucked in, it’s probably giving people the wrong impression of what you & your business can do for them.
  • Tells the business story. Truly great employees engage customers in the history, vision, and story of the business. It’s more than just answering questions or closing the sale. It’s about making the customer feel like a part of the family. Does your website find opportunities to engage your visitors in your business story at every click?

It’s time to take some serious disciplinary action against your clock punchin’ website. Whether there are known problems that just keep escalating or you need to carefully observe it in action, make a list of what your website is doing well for you and how it could be working harder for you.

You can’t afford to have this employee slacking off.

– PS –

Website Kick Start 2.0 is here! We’re fighting lazy, clock punching websites and teaching you how to create hardworking, money making sites that work for you.

Click here to get started today!

Which story are you telling?

There are two stories to tell when communicating about your business. Neither are wrong, neither are right. The story you choose to concentrate on tells others quite a bit about why you do what you do and how you do it.

What are these two stories?

There’s a long-term story. And there’s a short-term story. Click to tweet!

Most online entrepreneurs are telling a short-term story. It’s the story that is focused on the present, on the growth of the business. It’s the story of immediate needs, quick fixes, and hype.

It’s based on perception. It’s works towards near-sighted objectives.

There’s a place for this story. It drives you to generate revenue now, to attract clients now. It keeps you motivated even when the going gets tough. It allows you to celebrate small wins – and celebrating is oh-so-important.

This isn’t a bad story to tell – especially when you’re telling it to yourself.

But there are those telling the long-term story. It’s the story focused on value, on the way forward, on the client relationship. It’s the story that produces movements, conversations, communities.

The long-term story creates collaborative goals. It’s the tide that lifts all the boats.

When money is tight, when resources seem scarce, the long-term story is the last thing you want to think about. The long-term story seems like a luxury.

But the long-term story is what your customers & clients are looking for. They want to know you’re here for the long haul. They want to know you’re as concerned with their needs as you are with your own. They want to feel care for, nurtured, understood.

The people attracted to the long-term story are the ones you want to work with. There the ones who want your best work. They’re the ones who pay what you’re worth and understand your value. They’re the ones that support you as an artist, thinker, creator.

Your customers believe in you because you give them a story to believe in.

Click to spread the word!

So what story are you telling? Does you website tell the long-term story or the short-term story? What story does your social media tell? What story does your person to person interaction tell?

What story are you telling?

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Anyone can write about personal development…

Anyone can write about personal development… anyone can read a few self-help books, change a few habits, and tell you to do the same. Anyone can tell me what I should be doing. Anyone repeat the same old cheers from the sidelines of life, waving tired pompoms in the air. Anyone can string together the language of the genre and tell me to live my best, most authentic, truthy, passionate life.

Then when someone decides to talk about your life in terms of the scriptural narratives that affect your thought & behavior patterns, I stand up & take notice.

Anyone can write about business… anyone can take what the “big guys” say and rewrite it in their own words. Anyone can tell you to hop on social media, build a tribe, create some products, fill a need. Anyone can convince you to tweak this, improve that, try this new application. Anyone parrot the same ideas as the rest of the industry and call it news.

Then when someone decides to examine business in a new paradigm for a new economy, I stand up & take notice.

Anyone can write about creativity… anyone can encourage you to pick up a paintbrush, get your hands dirty, try something new. Anyone can tell you what works for them, what coaxes them out of the box. Anyone can give you their version of The Artist’s Way, tell you to write your morning pages, and pat you on the head.

Then when someone decides to prompt & push you to creative action through the very nature of her prose, I stand up & take notice.

Anyone can let you know they’re going to be at an event & tell you to come find them.

Then when someone creates a whole experience around being “shot in the face,” I stand up & take notice.

Anyone can write about sex. Okay… maybe not anyone…

Then when someone tells personal stories, examines issues on multiple levels, and still gives you enough juicy bits to leave you wanting more, I stand up & take notice.

The barriers to publishing, public discourse, and commerce are lower than they’ve ever been before. If you’ve got something to say, you can say it and find people to read it.

Just how long can you sustain a business based on someone else’s ideas?

I ask — beg, plead — you to consider if what you’re saying is something new, noteworthy, or innovative. Are you just looking to put your spin on established truth? Or are you daring to push the boundaries of something, anything in pursuit of new truth?

You simply can’t compete with those who have already said what you have to say.

You won’t outspend them (they already made the big bucks), you won’t outproduce them (they’ve been at it for years), you won’t outangle them (they’re already top of mind).

So say something new. Say the thing that’s been on your mind — and frightening you to death — for so long. Say the new realization you had yesterday and ask for help working it through. Say something that goes against or beyond what we already “know.”

Watch how people follow you.

Bake a Bigger Pie: What social media has to teach about You Economy business – or – Top Ten lists be damned!

My social media consumption is at an all time low. At best, Twitter & Facebook are boring. At worst, they’re perpetuating the model of business that got us in this economic mess to begin with.

All I see is formula headline after formula headline, 6 ways for this and 3 tricks for that. They all promise big returns. They are almost (and I’m only saying that to be nice) all fluff.

The bits of brilliance are few & far between. But they’re enough to keep me around.

Radiant self-promotion doesn’t bother me. Scrambling for a just-slightly-bigger piece of the pie does.

Let me explain.

It’s not that organizing information in an easy-to-read way is bad. I could do a better job of that myself. It’s not that writing clever headlines is bad. It’s not.

What is unfortunate is that this trend means solopreneurs are simply resorting to what corporations have been doing for years, going after their competitors instead of bringing more customers & value into the market.

“Now hold up!” you might say. “How is a formula blog post going after a competitor?”

Excellent question. You don’t have to slam a competitor or blatantly try to steal traffic, sales, or customer loyalty to be playing the competitive advantage game.

Competitive advantage is the name of the Them Economy game.

They try to eek out a percentage point here, pennies on the dollar there. Sure, it works. But for how long? They see the market as finite. There are only so many eyeballs — better optimize my business to attract the highest percentage.

They are going for a slice of the lifestyle design pie, the handmade marketplace pie, the travel hacking pie, the minimalist pie, the app pie, the self-publishing pie. They’re not bringing new customers into the fold. They’re not offering new ideas or fresh perspective.

They parrot others ideas in the hope that speaking the same words will yield the same results.

They show up in your Twitter stream to claim what’s theirs.

They see innovation at an end. Sure, the chips get smaller & the resolution gets brighter — but new? Nope, not right now. They don’t see new ideas around every corner, new opportunities for advancement just over every horizon.

They are more concerned with their social media strategy than they are with making your life better, easier, healthier, more connected, or more meaningful.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to buy it.

And we don’t have to rely on carving out a bigger piece of the pie for ourselves at the expense of others.

You Economy businesses know that the market is infinite. Click to spread the word! It is only limited by their ability to invite customers to the table.

You Economy businesses know that it’s not a matter of capturing a piece of what already exists but about creating something new, uniquely you, and in service of others. Baking a bigger pie leads to the greatest success.

You Economy businesses create welcoming spaces that use meaning, relationship, and experience to provide multidimensional value to a wider audience. They propose new ideas and invite others to participate in making them whole. They connect people to ambitions greater than any individual company or person could hold for themselves.

And yes, you can do this 140 characters at a time. Try it.

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The Anthropreneur Angle: delivering a good life through other-focused business culture

A good life is one rich in, above all, “human potential,” the capacity to seed, nurture, and harvest all the many different kinds of wealth.
— Umair Haque, Betterness

Building your own business on your strengths, passion, and self-determination goes a long way towards generating wealth on many levels.

You’ll find your reserves of creativity rising, your relationship accounts overflowing, and your energy reports firmly in the black. Raking in a nice profit doesn’t hurt, either.

This is old news.

You Economy businesses must not only support their owners but support others.

This is not as simple as “do no harm.”

It means working in a way that leaves your commercial ecosystems qualitatively & quantifiably better. As Haque describes it in his book, Betterness, it’s a positive paradigm of economy – not simply a “not negative” one.

The positive economic paradigm isn’t just based in the trade of financial assets but the growth of real wealth in all its forms.

In this system, your business thrives because you’re not just solving problems for your customers but helping them live richer lives. Your business doesn’t make life “not bad” it makes life better.

You know your business can make your life richer in many forms: relationally, creatively, financially, intellectually, emotionally, etc.. But have you designed it to make your customer’s lives better in all those ways as well?

Do you make business decisions with the intention of making your customers richer? 

I don’t doubt that some of you already do this. However, in striving to make our businesses work “better,” we often crack open the annals of Them Economy business. We assume the answer lies in the dots that remain unconnected in our non-MBA-trained brains. We assume the answer is hiding in more persuasive marketing copy, finely tuned profit & loss statements, and better launch strategy.

But you are not just another cog in the Them Economy machine.

I love persuasive marketing copy, finely tuned P&L statements, and rocking launch strategies, but the basis & understanding for those facets of business must now arise from an other-focused culture. Your overall business culture must emerge from a focus on generating multidimensional wealth for those you come in contact with.

What is business culture?

Your business culture (and yes, you have one!) is the point-of-view & values that make up all business decisions, communication, and development.

“The thing is, every business has a culture. It may be strong or weak, positive or negative, or just plain hard to spot, but it’s like a form of internal brand in a way. It’s the collective impression, habits, language, style, communication and practices of the organization.
— John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing

You’re not an entrepreneur, you’re an anthropreneur.


An anthropreneur is part of & is creating a commercial culture that serves human beings to their full potential. The language, habitat, rituals, and beliefs of service & those you serve are at the center of your business culture. As an anthropreneur, you are concerned with building wealth into every facet of life – beyond mere profit – both yours & your customers’.

This is why you find the usual answers to business questions lacking. It’s not that those answers are wrong. It’s that in a different time, a different economy, a different culture, you could start with those answers & build from there.

In the You Economy, you must start with your other-focused culture. You must start with the intention to build wealth on all levels for all parties involved. You must know what that looks like, feels like, tastes like. And then you can layer the business-as-usual answers on top of that context. You can evaluate them. You can mold them & manipulate them to work for your business culture.

Consider social media. No, really.

I am a lover of social media. Both for what it has allowed me to access in commerce & for what it has allowed me to communicate to a mass audience. But I’m not a “how to” social media strategist. I’m a user. And maybe a bit of a philosopher.

But social media is an acute & accessible example of the generating multidimensional forms of wealth.

The gurus will tell you how often to tweet, when to post updates, and what types of headlines will generate the most response. That’s fine. There’s even research to prove it, which I highly recommend reading.

You can construct tweets & updates that have no purpose, no greater message, no call to action. They’ll get retweeted. But does that give your business traction? Is anyone really paying attention? Or is it simply part of a paradigm that rewards competitive behavior? I, of course, would argue the latter.

Instead, starting a movement around a single ideal – even for entertainment, internet memes, FTW! – encourages others to build on the conversation. Develop a #hashtag around something you’re passionate about, use it, and watch others add their own emotional & intellectual wealth to the conversation.

Your output is valuable, sure. But the spontaneous conversation created around your output is exponentially more valuable. If that conversation is tied to a business and you leverage it for sales, your financial wealth increases. If that conversation is tied to a nonprofit and you leverage it for action, social wealth increases. There is greater value for you, your customers & compatriots, and those you all touch in the shared wealth than there is in the value of a single source output.

What I’m not suggesting is that we build other-focused cultures at the expense of profit. Sometimes, these cultures will impact profitability – or our ability to squeeze every last cent out of the business model. Businesses & anthropreneurs should be encouraged to profit – lots of it – as one simple indicator of the wealth they are building into the system.

Responsibility to generating all forms of wealth doesn’t negate your responsibility to generate a profit. And it will probably help.

Yes, building your own business is a big step towards you living a better, more fulfilled life. But to get there in the You Economy, you must begin with making the lives of others better. Unleash their human potential – they’ll help you unleash yours.

What’s your anthropreneur angle?

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The People Business – or – Why social media starts OFFLINE

My first website was a “local” arts & crafts blog. What I did not consider when starting my online business was that people would want to meet me outside the comfortable confines of the online space.

To me, online business was being safe & sound on my couch. Alone. Possibly in my PJs.

Meet? For coffee? In real life?

I’m an introvert, a bit shy, and not particularly socially skilled.

I tried to use my 6 month old infant as an excuse.

“Nope, can’t. I’ve got a baby.”

Of course, that doesn’t work when the people who want to meet up with you are moms themselves looking both to get out of the house and to get ahead with their dreams.

“Bring her along!” they’d say.

Luckily, their persistence forced me out of my comfort zone. Within the first few months of starting my business, I’d met several new friends and even taught my first workshop.

At first, the terror of meeting someone new and battling my idea of her expectations of me was all I could think about. I’d be sick to my stomach days ahead of a simple coffee date. As coffee date after craft show after workshop started to pile up, things became easier.

Practice makes perfect.

I learned that the only expectation I really needed to worry about was the expectation for me to learn about someone new, explore her story, and meet her in the moment. It didn’t matter if I was more or less than she thought I was or if I had strange interests or if I ordered an iced latte in the middle of winter. What was important was meeting then & there with shared purpose.

That took me about 18 months to really understand. But still, it happened!

By the time I started to master meeting new people, I realized that much of the “social networking” that was happening among people online was happening offline. My peers & mentors were meeting up at conferences, workshops, retreats, and just generally traveling around furthering their careers.

Cause & effect.

If I wanted to grow my business by expanding my network, I was going to have to get out of my house. And my state.

I took the leap. Last year, I made it a point to travel to every conference that truly interested me and embrace the strangeness of strangers. I flew to Portland, OR for World Domination Summit & Profit Catalyst. I took the bus to NYC more than a few times. I hopped a plane to LA, St Paul, Chicago, and San Diego. And I sprinkled in plenty of day trips.

I put a priority on surrounding myself with people who “get” what I’m all about.
Or people who should. Or people I just desperately wanted to understand myself.

Yes, it’s difficult to leave my child to travel. Yes, it’s difficult to pony up the money. Yes, it’s weird to be in a room with 500 people I don’t know.

But the benefits of meeting my clients, customers, and colleagues far outweighed any downsides.

I now have good friends – a support system – that span this country. Now we schedule Skype chats to stay in touch in between trips.

I have a better understanding of who my customers are and what their needs are. Cause they told me, over drinks.

The people I look up to in my industry know my name, my face, and what my work is all about. Cause they asked.

But best of all, I have the experience of seeing people encounter my work firsthand. I have the confidence that comes with the “aha! moments” that people take away from dinner or drinks. I feel the ease with which my work emanates.

That’s something I’ve not experienced in any other setting in just the same way. And so I keep leaving the house, I keep traveling, I keep meeting people.

In the end, online business is no different from offline business.

We are all in the people business. And if you’re going to be in the people business, you better understand your business in relation to people.

Click to tweet it!

Regularly interacting with your peers & potential customers allows you to consider these questions:

  • What is it like to talk about my business with people who care?
  • What aspects of what I offer appeal to people outside my current audience?
  • What appears most valuable about what I do?
  • How do others talk about me & my work?
  • What lights me up when I talk about my business with people who get it?
  • How is my story different from others stories?

Put away your excuses. Put on a sharp outfit and get out of the house. If you can, get in a plane, a train, or an automobile. Leave home behind — leave online in the dust.

Venture out to find the people who will enable you to make your business sing.

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